Many times in the Old and New Testaments of the bible, God or Jesus tell the people to have no fear. In the gospel of Matthew, chapter 10, verse 26, Jesus tells his disciples, “Fear no one.” Fear is a powerful emotion. In fact, according to Goodreads, on the internet there are 7807 different quotes on fear. We have fear of people who are different from us, fear of Covid-19, fear that no matter what we say it will not be heard, fear that God is hard to find, and many other fears. I can see why Jesus felt a need to talk to his friends about fear and how to approach it. In the gospel, Jesus sits down with his disciples to talk to them about the powerful emotion of fear and how to handle it.
Fear is defined in the dictionary as “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.” It is an automatic response to a belief about something that will have a negative effect on us. So today we have the fear “Will I catch Covid-19 and die because of my already tenuous physical health?” Or we have the fear “Will I live long enough to get out of isolation and return to the kind of life I once lived?” Lastly, maybe we have a fear that someone will figure out more policies that will isolate us even longer.
I know I have a fear that sits in the back of my mind these days. So when I read the sentence in Matthew’s gospel “And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul,” it makes me think that what our isolation can do is “save” the body but “kill” the soul, that is, our spirit. Then I feel helpless. No matter what, we must figure out ways that our spirit is not crushed by isolation or any of our other fears. Sometimes, I do not know what to do.
I looked at a quote from Rosa Parks. She said, “I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” What is it that drives my reality? For Rosa Parks, it finally came down to a belief, a conviction of truth. She knew she could have been killed like George Floyd was. We too must look at our own core beliefs to be guided by those beliefs instead of by fear. A key core belief we have embraced in our commitment to a religious way of life is that God is with me. It is a choice each of us must make whether I will be controlled by my fear of terrible things happening or I will be controlled by a belief that if God is for me and with me I can handle anything. This is what Jesus is trying to say to his disciples. Hold on to the truth that you are more valuable than sparrows. Know that God is aware of every hair on your head. (although we know that for many of us, that task of counting the hair on our head is less time consuming to God today than it was 40 years ago.) Jesus is saying to his disciples and to each one of us that we need to embolden our belief that God will sustain us in every situation. God has our back. Let that lead us. May we make up our mind to hold fast to our belief that God is with us.